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UK PM May fires defense minister over Huawei leak

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UK PM May fires defense minister over Huawei leak

UK PM May fires defense minister over Huawei leak

British Prime Minister Theresa May fired defense minister Gavin Williamson on Wednesday over the leak of information about Chinese telecoms company Huawei.

Mia Womersley reports


UK PM May fires defense minister over Huawei leak

The UK defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, has been fired for allegedly leaking a controversial national security decision about Huawei to the press.

News broke last week in a British newspaper that Britain would allow Huawei, the Chinese telecoms and mobile phone giant, to build parts of the country's 5G network over the objections of allies including the U.S. and Australia.

Prime Minister Theresa May launched an investigation over the leak, which happened after a meeting of the National Security Council, and it is said to have traced back to Williamson.

Williamson "strenuously" denies any involvement in the leak.

But in a letter addressed to him, the prime minister said that the matter was a ''deeply disappointing one'' and that her government had compelling evidence against him.

Wililamson's sudden dismissal is another blow for May, whose own premiership hangs by a thread after her failure so far to usher Britain smoothly out of the European Union.

The firing also underlines how seriously her team treated the leak from the National Security Council, which discusses Britain's national security, intelligence coordination and defense strategy, and involves only certain ministers from her cabinet to keep its talks as secret as possible.

Opposition parties are calling for a criminal investigation into the leak.

Huawei has been at the center of fierce debate by officials in Europe, Australia, and the United States over concerns that the company is too close to the Chinese government and could allow a backdoor for Chinese spies into communications networks.

The U.S. has restricted Huawei from government networks and its been banned from the entire country of Australia.

Huawei has always flatly denied being involved in any kind of espionage operation and no hard evidence has been publicly released by any western government to the contrary.

Williamson is being replaced by Penny Mourdant, a member of parliament and secretary of state for international development.

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